Novak Djokovic drawn to play in Australian Open as Morrison sends warning sign on visa call

Novak Djokovic's fate is in the hands of Immigration Minister Alex Hawke (inset). Pictures: Getty Images, Sitthixay Ditthavong
Novak Djokovic's fate is in the hands of Immigration Minister Alex Hawke (inset). Pictures: Getty Images, Sitthixay Ditthavong

Novak Djokovic has been drawn to play in next week's Australian Open despite the ongoing threat of deportation.

The world No.1 remained in limbo late on Thursday as Immigration Minister Alex Hawke continued to examine the case for using his personal power to re-cancel the unvaccinated tennis star's visa.

"These are personal ministerial powers able to be exercised by Mr Hawke, and I don't propose to make any further comment at this time," the Prime Minister said.

But in a warning sign for Djokovic, Mr Morrison maintained the government's position was that unvaccinated overseas travellers needed to provide "acceptable proof" they couldn't receive the jab before entering the country.

Djokovic had received a separate medical exemption from Tennis Australia and the Victorian government to compete in the tournament on the grounds he had recovered from a bout of COVID-19 in mid-December.

But the federal government's position remained a recent infection with COVID-19 was not a medical reason not to receive the vaccine.

Mr Morrison's comments came less than an hour after the Australian Open draw was dramatically delayed without explanation.

The ceremony resumed about an hour later, with Djokovic drawn to play fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round. The tournament starts on Monday.

There was an expectation Djokovic would appeal any visa cancellation decision, meaning the saga could drag on into next week.

Djokovic earlier this week won a legal fight to quash the government's original decision to cancel his visa.

The case was decided on procedural fairness grounds, with the judge delivering no formal verdict on the legitimacy of the Serbian's medical case for entering the country unvaccinated against COVID-19.

The 20-time grand slam champion this week made a series of public concessions about his role in the saga, elements of which were understood to now be under investigation by Australian authorities.

The 34-year-old admitted to making a false declaration on his travel documents and attending a face-to-face interview and photoshoot after testing positive to COVID-19.

Djokovic blamed "human error" for his team declaring the Serbian star had not travelled in the two weeks before he flew from Spain to Australia in early January.

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The concession came after photos emerged of Djokovic in the Serbian capital Belgrade on Christmas Day, proving he had travelled inside the 14-day window.

Djokovic also claimed he hadn't attended a children's tennis event while knowingly infected with COVID-19 on December 17 last year, as he was only "notified" of the positive result after returning from the awards presentation.

Djokovic took the PCR test which returned the positive result on December 16, according to his court filings.

His statement that he wasn't aware he was infected on December 17 appears to be in conflict with his sworn affidavit published by the Federal Circuit Court.

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This story Djokovic drawn to play in Australian Open as PM sends signal on visa call first appeared on The Canberra Times.